Widgets for Marketing 101

Widgets have been around for a while, but recently more people seem to be discovering the power of the widget. So I thought I’d give a 101 type post on what a widget is and what it can and can not do. I’ll be following up this post with a series on some great (and some not so great) widgets and why they work.

What is a “widget”

Technically a widget is something whose “name is not known or cannot be recalled.” But in this context, it’s a third party item that can be embedded in a web page or on a user’s desktop.

What does a widget look like?

A widget is usually slightly branded by the producer of the widget, and most browser based widgets (the focus of this post) live on the sidebar of a user’s blog, or on their social profiles.

What does a widget do?

The list of what a widget can do is large. Some widgets help users get directions, look up dictionary terms, get the weather, or read their favorite RSS feeds. Other widgets allow users to sign petitions, pull in their user generated content from other sites, or look at product reviews.

So how do I use a widget for social media marketing?

Now this is a loaded question, but one I hope to answer with future posts. For now, it’s important to remember that a widget is just one method of pushing a message. A widget is not an ad. A widget also has to have support from other social media marketing strategies in order to be successful. The “build it and they will come” method is not a strong way to publish a widget.

The most important thing you should take from this post is that users have to have a reason for wanting to use a widget. Fighting for real estate on a user’s webpage/social network/desktop is not to be taken lightly. There are tons of reasons why people love and use widgets. But there are also tons of widgets out there. If you can’t think of a legitimate reason why you (or someone in the demo you’re targeting) would add a widget to a Facebook or MySpace page (where real estate is in lesser demand) then your social media marketing efforts might be better spent elsewhere.

Ignite Social Media